IRIN Update 651 for 4/16/99

IRIN Update 651 for 4/16/99

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 651 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 16 April 1999)

RWANDA: Government slams Vatican reaction to bishop's arrest

The Rwandan government has slammed the Vatican over its reaction to the arrest of Bishop Augustin Misago, who is suspected of genocide. Bishop Misago, of Gikongoro prefecture, was arrested by the Rwandan authorities on Wednesday and is currently being held at the Muhima military prison in Kigali. A spokesman for the Vatican on Thursday described the arrest as a "serious blow" not only for the church in Rwanda, but for the Catholic church as a whole. "We hope the bishop will receive legal guarantees...and that his innocence will be quickly proven," the spokesman said, according to Radio France Internationale.

However, Rwandan government spokesman Major Wilson Rutayisire told the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) Misago was arrested "because of his personal involvement in the crimes he committed". "We do not believe he acted on behalf of the Catholic church whether in Rwanda or anywhere else," he said. "But if the Catholic church believes Bishop Misago was acting on its behalf, then it should answer for his charges of genocide in a court of law."

In a statement dated 9 April, received on Friday by IRIN, Misago protested his innocence, describing the accusations against him as "falsehoods".

BURUNDI: Vice-President intimates troop presence in DRC

First Vice-President Frederic Bamvuginyumvira has described relations between his country and the Democratic Republic of Congo as good. In an interview with the BBC Kirundi service during a visit to London this week, he noted that President Laurent-Desire Kabila had assisted Burundi when it was under economic embargo. "Therefore Burundi cannot say it supports those fighting him," he said. "We make sure that relations between Burundi and Congo are good." He noted Burundi's ambassador to DRC had returned home because of the war, but that he would go back once the issue was resolved.

He intimated that Burundi may have troops in DRC. "When war starts in a neighbouring country, you go beyond your front door," he told the interviewer. "So we decided to send our soldiers as far as possible, so that we do not get surprise attacks."

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels accuse Kabila of rights violations

Rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) have accused Kabila of human rights violations in Mbuji Mayi, rebel-controlled Goma radio reported on Thursday. The radio, monitored by RNA, said the charge followed the public execution of 11 people in the town on Wednesday. The government said they were criminals and that the execution was meant as a "deterrent". However, the radio said the 11 were "innocent people who were executed for their alleged sympathy to the advancing Congolese rebels".

Rwanda not attending Lusaka talks

Meanwhile, the Rwandan government said it would not send a delegation to DRC peace talks which opened in the Zambian capital Lusaka on Thursday. The minister in the president's office, Patrick Mazimhaka, told RNA the meeting was "a mere waste of time" as long as there was no ceasefire agreement. He reiterated Rwanda's position that the RCD should be directly involved in peace talks.

One killed in Kinshasa demonstration

Kabila's presidential guard opened fire on demonstrators in Kinshasa, killing one woman, as crowds booed the DRC leader and stoned his cortege on Monday. The demonstration followed the government's decision on Sunday to allow steep oil price increases, which in turn triggered a sharp hike in transport fares in the capital, sources in the capital told IRIN on Friday. [For full story, see separate IRIN-English item headlined "Kabila's guard kills demonstrator"]

Nairobi, 16 April 1999, 14:30 gmt


Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 17:32:07 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 651 for 16 April [19990417]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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